Five Terrible Mistakes PhD and Masters Students Make Every Year – How to Avoid Making the Same Mistakes


1. They Leave Things to the Last Minute

Students often leave professional editing of their dissertation or thesis to the last minute. After weeks and months of compiling their important document, they leave only little crumbs of their time for something as important as editing. There have been instances where a postgraduate student would unrealistically want their document edited within a day or two. That is not the way to go. Ample time needs to be budgeted for proper editing of your document, or else examiners will heavily penalise you or even refuse to examine your document until is it edited or proofread. The wise thing to do and to save yourself some unnecessary stress is to plan your time so that you are not left disappointed when an editor can’t assist you because your expected turnaround time is impossible. If you don’t know what the estimated turnaround time is for editing your document, don’t be shy to ask. Having an indication of how long it would take to edit your dissertation or thesis will help you to better plan ahead. The lesson? Don’t leave editing to the last minute!


2. Just Because They Have a Good Command of the English Language, Students Think They Don’t Need an Editor

This is one of the worst mistakes a student can make. We have edited various dissertations and theses for students whose first language is English, and we can without a doubt tell you that even they need a professional editor if they are serious about passing. A good editor goes beyond the English language to help you pass your dissertation. Students whose documents we have edited and who have passed with distinction (cum laude) can attest to this. It is a must to submit your dissertation or thesis with a certificate from a professional editor; this gives your examiners confidence that they are not wasting their time by dedicating their precious time to examining your academic document.


3. Students Try to Look for the Cheapest Editor

Make this mistake and you will take longer to get to graduation day or never see graduation day. When it comes to quality, you get what you pay for. In an effort to save costs, some go for the cheapest editor that charges them R5 000 so they can avoid paying R7 000 to an editor that delivers quality work. By doing this, they think they got themselves a bargain. Their joy of “saving” is short-lived and comes to an end when they are told to have their “edited” document edited again. How do we know this? We have edited many documents from editors who had apparently “edited” those documents. When students now desperately need quality work, they remember the editor who was going to charge them R7 000 and are then more willing to pay the R7 000. Sadly the student would now have to spend R12 000 (R5 000 + R7 000), whereas they could have just spent R7 000 from the word go and saved themselves significant funds. Your document will likely be examined by highly educated people like doctors and professors. In view of this, it is always wise to ask your editor to give you the best academic editing package available. This will increase your chances of success. Don’t just be guided by price, let quality also be your guide. Get the cheapest editor, and expect a cheap document. Be a good decision-maker.



4. They Don’t Put in the Effort to Get Along with Their Supervisor

Any human relationship requires effort if it is to thrive. This is no different with a student-supervisor relationship. Don’t give your supervisor an attitude, or they may reciprocate. Learn to be friendly and cooperative with your supervisor. When they ask you to implement changes, try not to argue with them, and just implement the changes as requested. Don’t undermine their efforts to assist you, including the time they sometimes need to sacrifice – at times late at night – looking at your document. Don’t reason that it is their job to help you, almost feeling entitled to command them as though you were King or Queen. If your supervisor is willing to bend over backwards to give you the necessary help for you to succeed in your studies, don’t be unreasonable when dealing with them. Most importantly, respect your supervisor.


5. They Sometimes Forget to Show Their Appreciation

To successfully complete a postgraduate degree, you need an army of supporters. The time you spend on your studies is often time that belongs to your family. Learn to express your appreciation to your wife or husband for sacrificing time they are supposed to spend with you for you to pursue your studies. Even though your time is limited because of your studies and your demanding job, do not neglect your spouse’s emotional needs. Show your appreciation to your children. Express your gratitude to your employer and colleagues. Thank your supervisor for their kind assistance. Remember that there is no point in waiting until the day you write the acknowledgements section of your dissertation or thesis – at the end of your studies – to express appreciation to all these people. You need to continuously show that appreciation as you journey through your studies because you need these supporters along the way – until you reach the finish line. So don’t make the mistake of only thanking your supporters at the end of your journey.I


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ENCOURAGEMENT: Do Not Give Up Your Dream of Getting Your PhD or Master’s Degree